The Alabama Supreme Court today (Monday, June 29) ordered all probate judges in the state to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately — even though the highest court in the land ruled three days ago that same-sex couples do have a constitutional right to legal marriage and that bans on same-sex marriage have been struck down, according to NewCivilRightsMovement.com.
The Alabama court’s reasoning is that parts of SCOTUS’ ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges are subject to appeal. To whom they plan to appeal wasn’t clear.
According to AL.com, Chief Justice Roy Moore initially said that the state court’s order prohibits probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but later backtracked to say he only meant they don’t have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moore said that parties have 25 days in which to contest the U.S. Supreme Court ruling before it becomes a mandate, and that “In that 25-day period that [U.S. Supreme Court] order is not in effect. The [Alabama Supreme Court] order speaks for itself.”
Shannon Minter, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights who was involved in one of the lawsuits challenging Alabama’s marriage equality ban, said the Alabama Supreme Court’s order “has no practical effect. U.S. District Court Judge [Ginny] Granade [who struck down the marriage ban in two separate cases] already ordered Alabama’s probate judges to stop enforcing the marriage ban as soon as the Supreme Court rule, and that is binding immediately.”
NewCivilRightsMovement.com posted a Tweet from Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin saying probate judges should not stop issuing licenses. HRC’s Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, “There is no justification for delaying or obstructing the clear message of the Supreme Court of the United States — marriage equality must begin in Alabama, and probate judges who stand in the way of that legal imperative risk exposing themselves to legal consequences. There is zero chance of marriage equality being reheard by the Supreme Court … .”
Alabama ACLU head Susan Watson called the Alabama Supreme Court’s order “a stalling tactic” and also warned that judges that refuse to issue the licenses could face sanctions. And Jefferson County Probate Judge Sheri Friday told AL.com, “I am not real clear what it’s saying .. it’s very unclear,” and that she is continuing to issue licenses.